Georgia

ISFED Post-Election Statement: The standard of adjudication of electoral disputes has worsened

ISFED released on 8 November a statement, summarizing the post-election observation of complaints and adjudication process by the election administration.  While ISFED observers had an opportunity to attend adjudication of complaints and express their position in almost all DEC sessions, the key finding is that the standard of adjudication of electoral disputes has worsened. Moreover, rigorous attempts of the electoral administration to not satisfy complaints and impose liability on commission members that have violated the law makes filing of complaints and the post-election of complaint
adjudication almost pointless. ISFED urges the election administration to look into the problems identified in the post-election complaint review process and make efforts to improve the quality of the process for the second round.

Problems identified are similar to the problems detected in the 2017 self-government elections:

•    Complaints were not satisfied mostly on the basis of explanatory notes of PEC members, which DECs viewed as credible evidence irrespective of seriousness of violation and despite the fact that most of these explanatory notes had been drawn up after the Election Day;

•    Similar to the practice identified in previous elections, DECs considered that explanatory notes and correction protocols served as the basis for releasing the implicated persons from liability and viewed existence of explanatory notes or correction protocols as elimination of violation in cases like issuing excessive number of ballots, placing a signature in someone else’s box or omission of signature, mishandling of summary protocol, placing a ballot in the ballot box without an envelope, etc.

•    DECs avoided revision of tabulation results irrespective of seriousness of violation (e.g. rewritten data in protocols, numbers not reconciling, etc.). It should be noted that in such cases DECs relied on explanatory notes of PEC members or correction protocols prepared after the voting day;

•    For releasing PEC members from liability, DEC members uniformly used the standard arguments that: a violation did not amount to a gross violation of the law and it did not affect expression of voters’ will or election results; no substantial violation had taken place, which would have affected the election process; a mechanical error had occurred, which did not amount to the basis for imposing a disciplinary liability. DECs used these arguments to justify their decisions not to
impose liability on PEC members when summary protocols had not been stamped with a commission stamp, an observer’s right to video recording was restricted, inking was not checked, spoiled and unused ballots were sealed together, unauthorized individual was let inside the polling station, etc.;

•    In some cases evidences were not examined (e.g. sealed documents were not opened) and instead, commissions based their decisions on explanatory notes of PEC members;

•    Complaints were left without consideration for wrong reasons, a number of different basis were indicated to justify such decisions. These decisions mostly suggest that many DECs wrongfully interpreted and applied provisions of the Election Code.

See the full statement here:

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